2019 must be the beginning of the end for coal in Germany - report | WWF

2019 must be the beginning of the end for coal in Germany - report

Posted on
17 January 2017
Germany would need to start phasing out coal by 2019 and completely eliminate the fuel from its energy system by the end of 2035 at the latest if it wants to reach its Paris climate commitments, reveals a study published today by WWF Germany. Despite Germany’s commitment to renewable energy, the country is still one of Europe’s worst polluters: six of the EU’s most polluting coal-fired power plants are situated in Germany.

A new study called “Germany’s Electric Future” published today by WWF Germany in cooperation with Prognos AG and Öko-Institut shows how Germany can make an adequate contribution to the global fight against climate change without experiencing energy shortages.

“Germany has a coal problem, and we can no longer put off addressing it. Our calculations clearly demonstrate that Germany’s very old coal power plants need to be decommissioned as quickly as possible,” says Christoph Heinrich, Director of the Conservation Department at WWF Germany. “The Paris agreement was unanimously ratified in the German parliament. This constitutes a clear mandate to start phasing out coal by 2019 at the latest. Any further delay would indicate that commitments made in line with the Paris agreement are not being taken seriously.”

The study uses an innovative approach: instead of looking at emissions reduction goals over a certain period of time, analyses are based on the so-called CO2-budget. This budget takes the Paris climate agreement as its benchmark1.  All measures concerning climate protection and energy policies compatible with the 2°C limit, the WWF study advocates, must be aligned with Germany’s remaining CO2-budget. The WWF model outlines the path for a coal phase-out that contributes a fair share to the global fight against climate change and that is economically feasible.

However, the phase-out of coal in Germany, the report adds, must be accompanied by a massive expansion of renewable energies. Expanding renewables ambitiously is a vital part of the Energiewende.  

“Germany should lead the EU away from coal and towards 100% renewables. Phasing out coal power, alongside dedicated support for mining regions affected by this transition, will relieve EU countries of massive health and social costs and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” says Imke Lübbeke, Head of Unit EU Climate and Energy Policy.

Notes to the editors:

1 In Paris, countries agreed to limit global warming to well under 2°C. In order to reach that goal, only a limited amount of CO2 can still be emitted, globally it is 890 gigatons. Consequently, the German power sector, responsible for about 40 percent of all German greenhouse gas emissions, only has four gigatons of CO2 emissions left. However, if Germany continues using coal for its electricity generation without introducing any limits, its CO2 emissions would end up being much higher.

Audrey Gueudet, Senior Communications and Media Officer, Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office, +32 494 032 027, agueudet@wwf.eu
Lea Sibbel, press officer at WWF Germany, Tel.: +49 30-311 777 467, Lea.Sibbel@wwf.de